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Diablo III Beta: Stay A While And Listen

Charles Battersby  Hello my friend.  Stay awhile and listen.  I’m old and grey enough to have played the original Diablo when it was a hot new game back in the 90’s.  I was also part of the horde of nerds who made Diablo II the fastest selling game in history when it was released in 2000.  After waiting twelve years for another Diablo game I leaped at the open beta test, but after finally forcing my way onto the overcrowded servers, my firsts thoughts were “I waited twelve years for this?” 

The hottest new game of 2012 still plays a lot like the hottest game of 1997.  Click to move, click to attack, hold Shift to fire without moving.  CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK- monsters dead!

But it didn’t take me long to see that the game was made with old nerds like me in mind.  Familiar?  Repetitive?  Yes on both counts, but Diablo III is also filled with nostalgia. 

The levels available in the beta are set in the town of Tristram, the little village where the Diablo story began, and there are many old friends to visit there. Especially effective is the use of some of the original voice actors (Oh Deckard Cain, how I missed you).  There are plenty of other nods to the first game too; apparently one must have a silly Scottish accent to work as a blacksmith in this town (“Wot kin aye do fer ya”).  Characters I’d often thought of in the years past had their stories fleshed out a bit, locations looked familiar, and the beta even let me take on one of the classic Diablo villains: The Skeleton King!

While the fond memories of old adventures held my interest, I was also glad to find that the tried-and-true Diablo style of hack ‘n’ slash gameplay still holds up.  The five classes from the full game were all available to play in the beta, and they each play a little differently than the rosters from previous games.  While the Mage and Barbarian return, they are also joined by a few new ones (Including the Monk who long-time fans might remember from the Diablo 1 expansion pack). 

This is just a taste of what the game will hold, and while it hasn’t shown quite the evolution I had expected, “More Diablo” is a good thing, and somehow I managed to stay up all night clicking on Skeleton Archers and archers just as I did sixteen years ago.

Steven Bednarz:  The Diablo III beta this weekend took me on quite an emotional rollercoaster. After all, I have been waiting in line to get on this ride for over a decade now, it had better be pretty damn good. When I first started the coaster it was slowly clicking its way to the top and all I could say was “eh, more Diablo”. I felt as though I was slowly clicking my way to the top only to have a disappointing plummet. During that journey to the top of the track I began to see the peak of the drop and the anticipation was overwhelming, I couldn’t wait for something awesome to happen. That was when I joined-up with two of my friends. 

Joining with friends was extremely easy and virtually seamless. After all, multiplayer was what drove me to play Diablo II for far too long a time span in the first place. Once I had two friends in my group I realized that I was having my first truly great experience with Diablo III and I was plummeting down the first exhilarating drop on the rollercoaster. Taking the ride changed my attitude from “eh, more Diablo” to “Hell yeah, more Diablo!”

Many of the fundamentals that make Diablo, Diablo are there. You’ve still got an apocalyptic world with the dead rising, hordes of enemies to slaughter, and plagues sweeping the inhabitance. And what would Diablo be without tons of gear? I could also really tell that Blizzard has made World of Warcraft since it made Diablo II; menus and interfacing have been streamlined and many of the class nuances have picked-up a lot of Warcraft’s characteristics.

I’m not completely in favor on the way leveling and skill distribution works yet, but I keep my hopes up. I reserve my final judgment for when I’m knee-deep in demon blood on the nightmare difficulty in May. My only gripe does have to do with difficulty though. I do not know if Blizzard has lowered the challenge of the game specifically for this weekend as to not scare away any potential customers, but I thought the beta was far too easy. That’s about it.

At the end of the day I couldn’t expect more. Diablo is still Diablo, what PC gamer could ask for more?


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